Turkey Cordon Bleu Casserole

>> Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Turkey Cordon Bleu Casserole

This casserole recipe from my sister-in-law Carolyn is so quick and easy that it's perfect for using up leftover turkey and for feeding holiday houseguests. Why spend all your time in the kitchen, when there's so much fun to be had? It's so delicious that people will forget they're eating leftovers.

This is also perfect for feeding a crowd any time of year. In Iowa, where Carolyn lives, this is a staple on buffets and church hot-dish suppers. The recipe can easily be scaled up for large groups. Substitute chicken if you don't have any turkey.


2 cups plain croutons
2 cups turkey, cubed
2 cups ham, cubed
2 c. grated Swiss cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup (we like the low-fat, low-sodium kind)
1 c. water
1 cup finely crushed bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste


Butter a 2 quart casserole dish. Spread the croutons on the bottom. Add half of the turkey and ham cubes. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the meat. Then pour half of the chicken soup/water mixture over. Repeat meat, cheese, soup mixture.

Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and season with salt and pepper. Bake, covered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.


Med-Mex Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

>> Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Med-Mex Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

When I was nineteen, I married a Mexican man and moved in with his mother so we could save for a house. Mama Nona tried to teach me how to cook traditional Mexican food, but it was pretty difficult because I didn't know much Spanish, and if she knew any English beyond "hello" and "goodbye", she didn't let on to me.

Mama Nona was not impressed with my cooking skills. One day she had a pot of pinto beans boiling on the stove. Her daughter Graciela shouted up to me. “We’re going out, Angela. Can you watch the beans?”

I came downstairs to look. “Sure, no problem.”

Mama Nona was muttering to herself.

“What did she say?”

“She says you’re going to burn the beans.”

“I’m not going to burn the beans. I got this.”

I was halfway into the HBO premiere of “Saint Elmo’s Fire” when I smelled them burning. I ran downstairs but there was nothing I could do. They were stuck to the bottom of the pot and steaming rancid smoke at me. I dumped them into the trash bag, took it out to the trash bin and started a new batch boiling. I opened all the windows to let the snow-fresh air come in.

Several hours later, when the family came home, the beans were perfectly done. I smiled at Mama Nona while she tasted them. She laughed.


“She says, 'I told you that you were going to burn the beans.',” said Graciela.

Last night I was cooking garbanzo beans (chick peas) from scratch so that I could make hummus. To cook most dried beans, you start them the night before by sorting out the bad ones, putting them in a pot of water, adding a couple pinches of baking soda and heating them. Once they reach a boil you turn off the stove and cover them, and let them sit on the burner overnight. The next day you strain and rinse them, cover with water again and let them simmer until they are soft. Doing it this way allows the beans the rehydrate and also eliminates the stuff that makes us gassy.


I was happily simmering those garbanzos that I'd already spent time with the night before. Unfortunately, Joe and I were also making a new recipe for duck in a pumpkin-seed sauce, and baking some french bread. I forgot about the garbanzos until we smelled the smoke.

And then Mama Nona rolled over in her grave, because her hopeless ex-daughter-in-law still can't cook a pot of beans.

I aired them out on the deck because the smell of burning beans is foul. Then I picked them over, because I still wanted hummus, darn it! So I took out a container of pinto beans that I had managed to cook properly and continued on with the recipe, making a Mediterranean-Mexican hummus fusion.

What I love about this recipe is that it has a much smoother, creamier texture than garbanzos alone, which can be a little mealy and grainy. We also kicked up the heat. Cumin, sesame, chick peas, beans, and peppers are common ingredients around the entire equator, so I say this is a valid food fusion. Let me know what you think of our innovation. Out of mistakes come good things.


1 jalapeno (or more to taste)
1 medium red bell pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
2 cups cooked garbanzos (chick peas)
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp cumin
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Place the peppers on a broiling rack and place them under the broiler at high heat. Turn frequently, until the skins are blackened evenly on all sides. Place the peppers in a paper bag and put a plate underneath it to catch the juices. Allow the peppers to steam at least 15 minutes, or wait until they are cool.

Chop the onion. Saute it in 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan until soft. Mince the garlic and add it to the frying pan. Add the beans and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Take the peppers out of the bag and remove the blackened skins. Scraping them with a knife is the way Joe likes to do this. Remove the seeds and dice the peppers. Add the peppers and the parsley to the blender.

Stir together the remaining olive oil, cumin, sesame oil, and salt and pepper. Pour into the blender. Process the bean mixture until smooth, scraping down the sides often. Add water as needed if the mixture is too thick; the consistency should be similar to creamy peanut butter. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.

Serve the hummus in pocket pita bread with lettuce, cucumber, grated carrots, and extra parsley, or use as a veggie dip or sandwich spread.

Makes approximately 5 cups.


Chicken Scallops in Mushroom Sauce

>> Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chicken Supremes in Mushroom Sauce

Here's another elegant dish with so much bold flavor that you'll have trouble believing it's low fat and healthy. Using the French technique of cutting the chicken breasts in half and quickly sauteing them on each side leaves them exceptionally tender and juicy.

We spiked the mushroom sauce with a tiny bit of vermouth, and used beef broth instead of chicken for a heartier, mellower flavor. It's so easy to impress someone with this meal, and it's amazingly quick to make. We suggest you have everything prepped and beside the stove before you start cooking. It's that fast!

This is fantastic with steamed green beans and a nice tossed salad.


2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
2 tbsp vermouth or dry white wine
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups fat free beef broth
1 tbsp oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups sliced white mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water


Stir together the thyme, vermouth, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth, and set it aside.

Lay a chicken breast on a cutting board and place your hand on top of it. Using a sharp knife, slice the breast through the middle from edge to edge, creating two thin fillets. Do the same with the remaining breasts.

Heat a large frying pan, then add the oil and swirl it around to coat the pan. Add half the breast fillets and saute on medium-high heat for 4 or 5 minutes, until the side is cooked but not browned. Flip them over and cook the other side. Remove them to a warm dish and cook the other half of the breast fillets. Keep them warm while going on to the next step.

Place the mushrooms in the pan and saute until they start to turn tender. Stir in the garlic. Return the chicken breasts to the pan. Pour the broth mixture over the breasts and gently stir it. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer 5 minutes.

Stir together the cornstarch and water. Pour it slowly into the sauce, stirring constantly. Keep simmering and stirring until the sauce has become a thin gravy (about 3 to 5 minutes). Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

Each 3 oz. chicken scallop with 1/4 cup sauce has 4 grams of fat and approximately 250 calories.


Skinny Apple Carrot Waldorf Salad

>> Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Skinny Apple Carrot Waldorf Salad

This light and healthy salad punches up the flavor of the classic Waldorf salad while cutting down on the fat. There's a good reason why Waldorf salad has been a favorite for over 100 years; the sweet, crunchy, and nutty tastes are so satisfying. You can assemble this in a few minutes, and kids love it.


2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick slices
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (toasting brings out the maximum flavor in this small amount of nuts)
1/4 cup raisins


1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp ground ginger


Stir together the salad ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients, then pour over the salad and toss well to coat. The salad tastes best if it chills for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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